Doing good and making a difference on Good Friday

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Paula Kotzapanagiotis’ daughter Cartia had just turned one when she came down with a cold that wouldn’t go away.

“She had a really high fever and a barking cough,” said Paula. “She couldn’t breathe and took an ambulance straight to the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). She was really, really sick.”

Cartia spent several days in intensive care with croup, under the watchful eyes of the staff at the RCH.

“The doctors and the nurses are miracle workers,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, my daughter wouldn’t be here today, 14 years later.”

It wasn’t just the medical attention that impressed Paula and her family, but the RCH’s attention to the little things.

“We were there over Christmas,” she said, “and on Christmas Eve they put a little gift underneath Cartia’s cot, so she’d have a present to open on Christmas Day.

“There were clowns, Santa Claus, and on Christmas Day we met English cricket captain Andrew Strauss. We still have a cricket bat from him.”

But Paula has a second personal connection to the RCH. According to her mum, Paula herself was critically ill at just three months old and required urgent intervention by the hospital’s doctors.

And again, at age eight or nine, Paula narrowly avoided a kidney transplant thanks to the treatment plans of RCH specialists.

“For about five years, my mum was taking me to the RCH every month to get checked and do tests,” she Paula.

“I remember that the doctors and nurses comforted me, and always gave me the assurance that I would be ok.”

With such a connection to the RCH, it’s no surprise that Paula has been a devoted volunteer at the Good Friday Appeal for many years.

“I first volunteered through NAB five years ago,” she said. “This year I’ll be doing two shifts, working in the room where volunteers take a break and have their meals.

“It’s such a small amount of time that makes such a big difference for the kids and their families.”

For Paula, volunteering on Good Friday is an opportunity to do something meaningful during the Easter period.

“My family knows that on Good Friday I commit to doing that one good deed,” she said, “and then I start preparing everything for Sunday when we all gather and celebrate Easter together.”

But the Catholic Easter celebration with Paula’s Italian/Croatian side of the family is just half of Paula’s Easter story. Since marrying her Greek husband Bill, the family now celebrates two Easters!

“When my husband’s grandparents were alive, we’d all go to church on Saturday at midnight, and then back to their house for Mayiritsa Soup,” she said. “And then we’d gather and have a big barbecue on the Sunday.”

Cartia and Paula with their bunnies, Meatball and Marshmallow
Cartia and Paula with their bunnies, Meatball and Marshmallow

Thankfully, Paula’s two-Easter family also comes complete with not one but two Easter bunnies: Meatball and Marshmallow.

Happy Easter to all!

NAB’s support for the RCH Good Friday Appeal
The Royal Children’s Hospital has been a long-time NAB customer, and this year we’ll again be providing coin-counting machines plus 500 rent-free EFTPOS machines.

The hope is that NAB’s electronic payment options will not just drive more donations, but also help to address security concerns with storing large amounts of cash over the Easter weekend.

The NAB Foundation has donated $5000 to this year’s Appeal, with further donations and volunteer hours from NAB colleagues like Paula, expected to flow this week.

You can support the RCH by contributing on its Good Friday Appeal donation page.

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